Saturday, 3 January 2015

What is the Ultimate Pie?

Here at Pierate we often claim to be 'charting a course to find the Ultimate Pie', but what exactly is our idea of the Ultimate Pie? How will we know when we have found it?

Firstly it must meet our definition of a 'Proper Pie'. We had to define this quite early on after beginning our pie quest because there were just so many questions regarding what we considered to be a pie.

1. A pie is deemed to be a filling totally encased in pastry.
2. A pie must have sides, a base and a discernible lid made from a separate piece of pastry.

The observant amongst you will have noticed we have reviewed a number of pies which don't quite meet this definition. We may consider these to be 'pies' to some extent, but not quite the 'Proper Pies' that we are searching for. Whilst these alternatives can be very tasty, we often note in our reviews that they lose marks, simply for not wholly fulfilling the idea we have of what a Proper Pie should look like. This is often stated as 'fulfilling the quintessential essence of pieness' (thanks to 'Pie Competition in a Box' for this quote).

But there are so many great pies out there which meet this definition of a Proper Pie, what else can make a pie stand out? Naturally it must score well against the 7 Cs which are the criteria we use to score all pies, you can see the article on the 7 Cs for an explanation of these. Again, there are many pies which have scored well against the 7 Cs but for the Ultimate Pie I have something very particular in mind. I think it is time to share some of my thoughts regarding what the Ultimate Pie might look like. I have broken this down into 7 qualities, many of which are already implied by our scoring criteria. Some haven't been spelt out before, they are my speculations based on insights from the pie reviews we have done so far.

7 Qualities of the Ultimate Pie

  • Individual - We might have been brought up to share, but when it comes to pies, I would rather know where I stand. I want an individual pie, which is all mine and I can enjoy as slowly or quickly as I like. Of course we have rated many sharing size pies on Pierate but what we are really looking for is the classic single person pie.
  • Satisfying - The pie should be satisfying enough that you aren't left hungry afterwards. We might not adhere to the idea that a pie should be a whole meal in pastry but if you end up feeling you need to eat two of them, it just doesn't quite feel like it could be the Ultimate Pie.
  • Interesting - The pie must capture the attention from beginning to end with a mixtures of taste and texture. Whilst the pie should be Satisfying enough that you would struggle to eat two, it should be Interesting enough that you want to try and eat two!
  • Cohesive - The pie should not just fall apart as you try to eat it, I would expect that it would be possible to pick the Ultimate Pie up and eat it by hand. The pastry certainly shouldn't crumble and if the sauce is too thin then eating it by hand is just asking for trouble.
  • Unified - The filling and pastry should be in harmony together, each amplifying the other to make them greater than the sum of their parts. They must have been cooked together for some time to allow the filling to begin to mingle with the edges of it's new pastry soul mate. You can't just put a pastry lid on top afterwards!
  • Tall - It is a certainty that the Ultimate Pie must have a perfect Pastry to Filling ratio. As already mentioned in our scoring criteria, this will depend on the density and also the thickness of the pastry. It would seem difficult to hit this balance right were the pie not to be quite tall. This would allow it to have plenty of filling to pastry. Pies often have a lack of filling, too much is rarely a problem. Height to Width is one aspect that makes pies stand out from other pastry products. A pie which stands tall and proud is also more likely to look the part of the Ultimate Pie.
  • Meaty - This last one might be a bit controversial, but given that Pierateers RAS, SJL and TJP all cite that their favourite pie flavour is Steak, it would be a shock were the Ultimate Pie not also a Steak pie, or at the very least meatilicious in some other way. I would expect it to have quite big chunks of meat as that is what is normally found in the meat pies that score highly on Pierate. We have often described our pleasure when there are big meaty chunks in a pie to sink our teeth into. We also seem to like a rich meaty taste to the sauce. We just can't help it, we're born carnivores.

Perhaps the Ultimate Pie will not fulfil these ideals and wow us all in unexpected ways. If we had a perfect idea of what the Ultimate Pie was, we could just get it made ourselves. The truth is that we just don't know yet, but we will know when we find it... and so will you, avid reader of Pierate! You will hear of our excitement because we will not be able to contain ourselves when we do find the Ultimate Pie .... and the reason we exist is to let you know. Even if we never find it, with so many great pies out there we are still going to enjoy searching for it!

Paul's Steak & Guinness, currently top of our pie rankings, has many of the qualities of the Ultimate Pie

SJL


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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